An elder ronin samurai arrives at a feudal lord's home and requests an honorable place to commit suicide. But when the ronin inquires about a younger samurai who arrived before him things take an unexpected turn.
This tale begins in a slow and confusing manner. A young girl is being asked about a man with whom she was keeping company, as her grandmother plays a lament on a shamisen. Then the focus changes to a couple arriving from Tokyo - the woman returning to her home, the man an escapee from the yakuza. The man doesn't seem to mind when the woman sells her favours to tourists at the local bar, just as she seems to take his attentions to Yuki, a blind girl, with equanimity.
It takes until well into the second half before the story gels, and it is worth the effort to get there.
Laments accompanied by the shamisen feature prominently in the soundtrack and they illustrate the story well. Also, they sound great. The songs point to what Yuki's life would be like, had she lived in an earlier age.
There are terrific performances from most of the actors, particularly Kyoko Enami as the put-upon prodigal trying hard to do the right thing. The cumulative effect of the music, the story slowly gelling, the touching portrait of a small town drained of its fit young people and the performances makes this film, though no classic, certainly worth the effort.
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